Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
October 12,  2005

Massa eyes Sauber 'gift'
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.12) Felipe Massa would like to give his formula one boss a 'nice parting gift' at the final grand prix of 2005 in Shanghai.

The young Brazilian driver, who has spent his entire three-year race career at the Hinwil based squad, says 36-year racing veteran Peter Sauber's last event as a formula one team owner will be 'special'.

In 2006, Sauber will become BMW's works team, and Massa is off to be the next teammate for Michael Schumacher.

''I have many fond memories,'' the 24-year-old said. ''I hope I can do a good job and leave Peter with a nice parting gift this weekend.

''I will be trying my very best for him in China.''

Felipe and Peter clearly share a mutual affection. Sauber told Credit Suisse's Emagazine that the little Paulista is 'not far off being another Michael Schumacher'.

''I think he'll enjoy being with Ferrari,'' the veteran team principal added. ''Anything that's even close to Michael is considered good in F1 circles.''

Two banks sell F1 shares
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.12) The seemingly infinite row over the future of formula one might finally have turned a corner.

In a bid to at least clean up a messy commercial ownership structure, Germany's Bayerische Landesbank has bought out fellow 'SLEC' (Speed Investments) shareholders Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan Chase.

The deal means that F1 is now solely owned by 'Bayern' (75 per cent) and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone (25 per cent), clearing the path for a tidier purchase by a third party.

Ecclestone, 74, earlier this year lost a court battle with the banks over disputed control of F1's commercial rights.

Ever since, there have been reports that the banks are negotiating the sale of their majority stake -- with parties like the F1 teams, GPMA, Bernie, and private consortiums like Tom Group and BSkyB.

The 'gorilla' on JB's back
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.12) England's Jenson Button will probably fail to win his hundredth grand prix in a six year career at Shanghai on Sunday.

According to the British 'Mirror' newspaper, this winless statistic is not so much a monkey on the 25-year-old's back, but a 'massive gorilla'.

BAR-Honda principal Nick Fry, however, is keen to put a metaphorical arm around the team's lead driver as the 100:0 ratio becomes real in China.

''I don't think there are any monkeys on Jenson's back,'' he told British newspapers this week. ''The monkey is on the team's back to provide a good car.''

Fry thus admitted that the '007' model is 'clearly not the best car' in 2005-spec pitlane.

The British media have grabbed the significance of JB's 100:0 statistic because no world champion in the history of the sport has passed his hundredth grand prix without winning a single race.

Scotland's Sir Jackie Stewart, for instance, competed in just 99 grands prix -- but won 27 times and collected three drivers' titles.

Fry insisted: ''I see no reason why Jenson can't be champion in the future. It's our job to give him the equipment.''

China 'expect' F1 sellout
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.12) Shanghai's grand prix track has responded to reports that a less than impressive crowd is set to gather for the second Chinese grand prix on Sunday.

Circuit general manager Yu Zhifei admitted this week that 'more than 100,000' will watch the formula one race in the city, also saying that the turnout would be 'lower' than last year's 150,000 sellout.

''A sellout crowd ... is expected,'' a statement issued by the Shanghai International Circuit read on Tuesday, ''to witness ... the decider for this year's constructors' championship.''

Yu Zhifei added: ''It could go either way. I think it's great for both the sport and China that the ... championship (has) remained open until the final race of the season.'

Todt pans 'reverse grid' idea
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.12) Jean Todt has slammed a suggestion that cars should line up on the grid in reverse order to guarantee a Suzuka-like spectacle.

The Japanese grand prix, filled with Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen's overtaking brilliance, was undoubtedly the race of the year, leading to the conclusion that the quickest men should always have to fight through the formula one pack.

Ferrari principal Todt bristled: ''Do we want F1 to become a circus? If we want it to remain a sport, then the fastest drivers must be ahead.''

The F1 fraternity will congregate for a meeting of the F1 Commission later in October, to discuss a proposed shake-up of qualifying to resemble Bernie Ecclestone's 'knockout' system.

Todt seemingly supports the scrapping of the single-lap format, as he pointed to decreasing TV ratings and - in his opinion - the loss of qualifying as an 'exciting spectacle'.

But he had 'no comment' to offer regarding the possible reintroduction of tyre changing, a scenario that undoubtedly would give Bridgestone and Ferrari a road back to form next season.

Jean Todt added: ''I would rather speak about decisions after they have been decided.''

Fisi's '05 'not terrible'
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.12) Dampening speculation that Giancarlo Fisichella has not done enough to retain his Renault seat, team boss Flavio Briatore says the Roman has driven some 'fantastic' races so far in 2005.

The Italian principal admitted to the 'Kicker' magazine that Fisichella, 32, has made some mistakes this year alongside world drivers' champion teammate Fernando Alonso.

''Sometimes it was his fault,'' Briatore said, referring to Giancarlo's seemingly bad luck strewn run, ''sometimes it was not.''

''But I don't think his season was that terrible. The big difference is that Alonso's season was absolutely outstanding.

''Fernando has made hardly any mistakes, and - ok - he has had a little bit of luck.''

Briatore does, though, have a little quandary on his hands. Although he manages Spain's Alonso - and therefore takes a percentage of his annual pay - the world champion is likely to, sooner or later, demand a salary that Renault boffins are reluctant to welcome.

However, 'Flav' has a back-up plan.

''I would put Heikki Kovalainen in the car,'' he insisted, ''immediately. We are not like the other teams, who harvest their drivers from their competitors -- we create our own team and drivers.''

Sauber, BMW, 'won't clash'
(GMMf1NET -- Oct.12) Peter Sauber is sure there will be no cultural clash between his formula one team and new owner BMW.

The Swiss, to leave motor sport after 36 years but remain as a hands-off 'advisor' for sponsors, sees 'no reason to worry' about a clash of Sauber-BMW personality.

BMW's six-year works collaboration with British team Williams has famously ended for that very reason -- and an unseemly spat between Mario Theissen and Patrick Head is the persisting evidence.

Sauber revealed that there are 'a number of Germans' already working away at Hinwil.

''They've settled in well,'' he said.

''Where there definitely could be some friction is the challenge of merging a medium-sized operation into a large company.

''The attitude will have to change -- the new team is no longer a little David who stand up to the big guys once in a while.''

The Sauber team will also be no magic bullet for German carmaker BMW, Peter Sauber warned. He cited Williams, having a 'hard time' catching the leaders even with BMW power.

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